More than 800 lighthouses still stand in the United States, and Michigan counts 120 to Maine’s 66, which include the Machias Seal Island Light, maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard. Maine can, however, claim to lead the country in innovative ways of preserving and maintaining these landmarks.
No longer simply photogenic icons, more than a dozen lighthouse stations now invite visitors to clamber up into their tower and/or to explore their keepers’ houses-turned-museums, welcome centers, or lodging.
“In order for lighthouses to survive, they have to speak to people in ways that move them,” observes Bob Trapani, director of the American Lighthouse Foundation. Founded 20 years ago to enable volunteers to restore and sustain their local lights, the group currently maintains 18 light stations, nine of them in Maine.